2 Samuel 12:5-7a; 13
One article stated, “In April 1912 the Titanic was on her maiden voyage from England to New York. There were 2,223 people on board when this luxury liner hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship sank in just over 2 ½ hours & 1,517 people lost their lives. It was one of the world’s worst maritime disasters. Before tragedy struck two other ships radioed the Titanic to warn that there was a large iceberg in its path, but these radio messages were not sent through to the bridge, the ship’s control room. The people operating the wireless radio were too busy receiving personal messages for passengers. By the time the Captain realized their danger it was already too late. He tried desperately to turn the ship, but the iceberg scrapped the side, denting the hull in several places & popping out rivets below the waterline over a length of 90 meters. Water began to enter through those small slits or holes & very soon 6 watertight holds or compartments were flooded. The ship was doomed.
Four things sank the Titanic & these same four things can sink you & me as well. First, those on board thought it couldn’t possibly happen to them. They were complacent. Secondly, important warnings were ignored. Thirdly, it was not one big hole but several very small ones that allowed the ship to get flooded. And finally, it was something hidden, the iceberg below the waterline, that brought disaster.”
We find ourselves in the midst of a heated discussion between king David and the prophet Nathan, but before we can fully understand what’s taking place in chapter 12, let us put it in reverse and deal with what’s going on in chapter 11. At the beginning of chapter 11, David is at home during the war season (put a pen here) when he spots a beautiful woman bathing. He inquires about her (discovers that she’s married to Uriah), sends for her, lays with her, and conceives a child with her. He tries to cover his mess by having Uriah come home and lay with his wife. Once that plan is unsuccessful, he sends Uriah back into battle to have Uriah killed and David marries Bathsheba. Within chapters 11 & 12 we discover King David wrestling with (at least) four things. David wrestles with:
1. Being Complacent
2 Samuel 11 says that David CHOSE to stay at home during the season in which kings went to war. Two things here, first, every day that we are on this earth, there are choices we are called to make... (From what outfit we’ll wear to who we will marry to where we will live) Everyday life presents us with options, and we are called to make the right choice. (The right choice may not always be the popular one…) Second, things take place in certain seasons of one’s life. Depending on the season one is in determined what needs to take place. The winter season was the time for rest, relaxation, recuperation, and recourse. Because the conditions were not ideal, kings and their armies prepared for the spring during the winter. Here’s the issue with some people you know, they wait until it’s spring to START preparing when they had a whole winter. Look at your neighbor and say, ‘You’re in the wrong season!’ You’re preparing when you should be mobilizing. You’re sitting around the table developing strategy when you should be on the move... One of my questions I’ve always had whenever I read this text is this, ‘If David loved to go to war, what made him stay at home during the season for war?’ One of the requirements to be the king of Israel, especially since the people of God wanted to look like everyone else (another sermon for another time), was for the king to lead the army into battle. That plus David not minding a fight had (has) me asking the question, ‘So why did David stay at home?’ One source said it like this…
• The first is David’s arrogance. God has been with David in all of his military encounters and given him victory over all his foes. God has given David a great name. David has begun to believe his own press clippings. He begins to feel he is invincible. David seems to have come to the place where he believes his abilities are so great he can lead Israel into victory, even though he is not with his men in battle. Perhaps David has too much confidence in the number of his men, rather than in God.
• A second reason may be boredom. It is one thing to fight battles in which the enemy is quickly overcome. But the besieging of Rabbah is a whole different kind of war. This battle will not be won so quickly. It will take time to starve the Ammonites to the point that they surrender. It is not a very exciting kind of war to wage. And while they wait, the Israelite soldiers (which includes David) have to pitch their tents outside the city, living in the open field. This is no picnic, and David knows it.
• A third reason is that David may be getting soft. Let’s face it, David had some very difficult days when he was fleeing from Saul. Now, David has moved up in the world, from barren wilderness, which Saul and his army would avoid if possible, to the hills of Jerusalem. His accommodations are better, too. He no longer lives in a tent (if he was fortunate enough to have one in those days); he lives in a palace. Why would David want to stay in a tent in the open field, outside of Rabbah, if he can stay in his own bed, in his own palace, inside Jerusalem? David is starting to become Saul-like, in that he is willing to let others go out and fight his battles for him.
In his familiar position, David becomes complacent. There’s not many things worse among the children of God than a spirit of complacency. What do you do when the favor of God makes you become smug? What do you do when the favor of God makes you arrogant? What do you do when the favor of God makes you narcissistic, prideful, stuffy, and vane? Some people don’t know how to handle favor (another sermon for another time)... When you’ve reached the place where you don’t need to learn anything else, not seeking to grow anymore, settling for what is instead of searching for how to make it better, you’re in dangerous waters. You don’t stop, you don’t quit growing until you’ve taken your last breath. David has reached a place in his life where he has become complacent.
2. Being Covetous
There’s real danger when you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Sometimes you can do the right thing at the wrong time. Directly related, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost you your peace of mind among other things. Here it is, being out of position opens one up for demonic attack that may not have been intentioned for your life. Look at the text again with me, David is out of position which leads him to spotting a woman who’s taking a bath. This woman is so fine, that David is unable to function until he knows more about her and has laid with her. Some time goes by and this woman discovers that she is pregnant. What should have been a woman completing her cleansing period from her menstruation has become a one-night stand that’s led to a child on the way. All because David is not where he was supposed to be...
• Can I talk to my young people? I know that it is more popular today to be friends than be in relationships. I understand that some (both younger and older) really don’t want to put a label on what you’re doing, but you better be careful who and what you attach yourself to because there are some predators out here... Some people are comfortable in situation-ships, but you better be careful who you get close to. David, who is a man after God’s own heart, is a predator in our text. Can I talk to a different delegation while talking to our young people? Being anointed doesn’t mean you won’t have afflictions. Being saved doesn’t mean you won’t have struggles. Being intelligent doesn’t mean you won’t have ignorant moments. Being high doesn’t mean you can’t be humbled. David, who is often seen as being a champion for God, is preying on another man’s wife. He’s preying on another man’s wife, while the man is out fighting on his behalf.
• Going deeper, I’ve heard some blame Bathsheba because she was ‘exposing herself’’. Let me pose these questions: Have you ever taken a nap or had company on your porch? Have you ever eaten dinner in your backyard? Technically, you are outside of your house, but you don’t expect for anyone to harm you while enjoying the breeze. Let me come get you, she was still in the comfort of her home. Her bathing was not the problem; David not being where he was supposed to be was. Can you help me get a message to the delegation who blame sexual assault victims for what happens to them? Because sometimes people really don’t know how ignorant they sound. If David was at war (where he was SUPPOSED to be), he wouldn’t have even known that Bathsheba was bathing. Here it is, when you are not where God has purposed for you to be, you expose yourself to unnecessary temptation(s) or situations that bring unnecessary drama in your life. Because David is not where he should be, he’s opened himself up to attack and unending drama. Look at your neighbor one more time and say, ‘Make sure that you’re where you’re supposed to be!’ Is your heart in the right place? Is your mind, right? Are you feeding your spirit the right things? David’s disobedience (not being where he was supposed to be) is about to lead to permanent attack on his family.
3. Being Coniving
The mind is the place for both greatness and foolishness on major levels. God blesses us with brains to help make the world a better place, but when we’re outside the will of God, our thoughts can become perverted and we are used (sometimes unknowingly) by the enemy. Here we have a man after God’s heart who instinctively runs for the cover-up instead of repentance. David, who was anointed by Samuel at a young age, given countless victories and from Saul and other enemies by God, is now deceitfully dealing with people. My grandmother used to say, ‘When you lie (or do something wrong) you have to remember either the lie you told or specific details to cover your tracks. David thought that by sending for Uriah and sending him home to lay with Bathsheba that all of his problems would be solved, but God stymied his plans. When that didn’t work he resorted to killing Uriah in the name of covering up sleeping with his wife. There’s some people you know as well as people you watch on television who walk, act, and live as if God doesn’t see what they are doing. What do you do when God ultimately shuts down the foolishness?
4. Being Convicted
The prophet Nathan comes to the palace to tell David a story of a rich man who had his choice of lamb and sheep and a poor man who had one lamb who he loved wholeheartedly. The rich man took the poor man’s lamb, killed it, and prepared it for his guest. At the end of the story, David, being enraged at the rich man lack of compassion, declares a verdict for the man to which Nathan says, ‘You’re the man! (You da’ man!)’ Isn’t it amazing how quick we can be to throw others under the jail? Isn’t it amazing how quick we are to cut people down when they struggle in areas where we’re strong? Isn’t it amazing how we can jump to conclusions, be judge, jury, and executioner when we’re not the defendant but throw ourselves on the mercy of the court when we’re in the wrong? In his haste, David condemns the man in the story not knowing that he was condemning himself. In his haste, David reaches a verdict for a man he didn’t know, not knowing he was pronouncing his own verdict. What are you saying? Be careful of how you judge others, because the same measure you use will be used against you. Look at your neighbor quickly and say, ‘You the (wo)man!’
There’s one last thing for us to note in this story… After Nathan’s astonishing reversal, David is forced to confess what he has done, and Nathan informs David about what will happen to his personal and public life. He’s going to have to deal with drama in his family for the rest of his life and lose this son w/ Bathsheba (as difficult as that is- no parent wants to bury their child), but there is a sliver of good news... When you look at verse 13, David has just confessed his sin and Nathan says, ‘…The Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin…’ (NLT) We must push on to communion, but I’m just curious, is there anyone else glad that the Lord didn’t treat you as your sins truly deserved? You had to deal with some fallout because of the decisions you made, but you REALLY didn’t get what you deserved. You had to pay a little, but you didn’t have to pay with your life. You had some pain, but you really deserved worse than. Where are the real people? I didn’t deserve it (mercy), but God gave it to me anyway. The song writer asks the question, “Where would I be if not for your grace?” David was guilty, was going to go through some things, but God didn’t kill him. This is why you ought to bless God, as messy as you’ve been, as spiteful as you’ve been, as two- faced as you’ve been, God didn’t take you out! After all, you the (wo)man!